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Verbena's beef rib dish
Carmen Troesser

During the hectic holiday season, you can barely remember your name, let alone stay on top of local current events (except for this, obviously).

So we don’t blame you if you missed these two major restaurant openings during December (um, we did too). Luckily, we had a chance to check them out recently, and we definitely think they’re worthy of adding to your must-try list:

Alta Daniel Patterson, of Michelin-starred Coi fame, is behind the kitchen at this more casual mid-Market eatery, which caters to both carnivores and vegetarians. The burger is getting buzz, but we recommend the paper-thin mounds of house pastrami and the killer bialys filled with grilled onions, sage and poppy seeds. Finish things off with some vanilla soft-serve, made with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. 1420 Market St.; 415-590-2585 or

Verbena The team behind Gather, one of Berkeley’s most beloved restaurants, has brought their imaginative approach to Russian Hill. Our favorite appetizer here is the artichoke, which is artfully accented with pickled green tomatoes, black garlic and pine nuts. But we’d also like to talk about the meatballs made with duck, pancetta and chicken in a spiced black mole sauce. Skip the cocktails and order a glass of the crisp Forlorn Hope Verdelho instead. 2323 Polk St.; 415-441-2323 or

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